"We are," said Mark Williams, "close to bursting." Goodness, what's that all about? Well, Williams is a member of an elite unit of London's police, who are worried about the latest fashion accesssory among the city's youth – handguns. Even imitation or "replica" firearms, such as starter's pistols, will do. Yet, being caught with an illegal gun bears a maximum sentence of nine months in jail – less time than for dealing drugs. A report due out this week is expected to show a 50 percent rise in crimes committed with guns in parts of the city.


If the most famous part of the Vatican were for sale, how much would you have to pay to make it yours? The question is moot, since St. Peter's Basilica and its contents are considered priceless and thus certain never to go on the market. Still, in the Vatican's budget it is given a symbolic book value: one euro. Or, going by Monday's official exchange rate, 99 US cents.

Once again, alien-busters yield a box-office bonanza

It sold fewer tickets than its 1997 predecessor, but the sci-fi comedy "Men in Black II" outgrossed the original, setting a film-industry record for the long holiday weekend. In its first five days, the Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones flick took in $90 million, breaking the $85 million mark set in 1996 by another Smith feature, "Independence Day." The take for the same period for the original "Men in Black": $84.1 million. The top 10 in box-office earnings (in millions) July 5-7, according to industry tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc.:

1. "Men in Black II" $54.1

2. "Mr. Deeds" 18.8

3. "Like Mike" 13.1

4. "Lilo & Stitch" 12.7

5. "Minority Report" 12.4

6. "The Bourne Identity" 9.1

7. "Scooby-Doo" 7.0

8. "The Sum of All Fears" 3.8

9. "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" 3.6

10. "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" 2.9

– Associated Press

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